Senate approves Natural Resources Trust Fund plan

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LANSING—The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a Natural Resources Trust Fund spending bill on Thursday that will provide funding for six projects in the 35th District, said Sen. Darwin Booher.

Under House Bill 5364, $3.66 million would be provided for projects in Leelanau, Kalkaska, Roscommon, Manistee and Lake counties for the six projects.

“The trust fund provides a funding source for important local development and acquisition projects to improve outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I hope the House and the governor will quickly approve the legislation and get these projects started.”

Booher sponsored an amendment to provide prices for all of the projects in the bill and remove funding for four eco-regions, which were areas the Department of Natural Resources would like to buy additional state land.

“The bill provided funds for four eco-regions without specifically identifying what land would be bought and for how much,” Booher said. “I oppose that section because I believe that giving the department a blank check to buy more land however it sees fit would have been a failure of our oversight duty. It would have been especially irresponsible now since Michigan cannot afford to maintain and reimburse local governments for the land it already owns.”

HB 5364, as amended by the Senate, allocates $35.3 million in restricted funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for 18 land acquisition projects and 77 improvement projects across the state. 

“The Senate changes will help ensure accountability and increased transparency in trust fund appropriations,” Booher said. “Instead of continuing a system that creates a pool for land purchases without specific legislative oversight, we should be requesting more details and spending restraint.”

The bill now heads back to the House for consideration.

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